A thin column of smoke lifted lazily into the blue Nebraska sky, drifting hazily into the distance. The wind blew and the grass pointed west, towards the hazy purple mountains that could not yet be seen on the horizon. In the tall grass lay a broken wheel, next to it a hammer, and next to it a man. The man lay where he had fallen in the attack. The man had fired no gun, the arrow had hit him as he swung his hammer and killed him before he hit the ground. The young woman lay next to the burned wagon, like the man, stripped and mutilated. Bits of her torn dress turned and twisted in the breeze. A young boy lay a few yards distant in the waving grass; his eyes open to the sun, staring. The wagon burned and looted, the four mules handpicked by the man in St. Joseph had been taken to feed the hungry warriors that roam the plains. Like sun-browned wraiths they rode just beyond the horizon, always waiting, watching. In the early morning dawn their shadows rose from the ground like the shadow of the reaper. And would leave behind only a thin column of smoke on the horizon to mark their passing.
Morgan Sackett, Being careful not to skyline himself, looked down at the lone wagon smoldering below in the small valley. Not more than a few hours had passed since the attack. The Sioux were probably long gone but common sense held him there, watching. With Indians one could never tell, they had a tendency to do the unexpected. Watching for almost an hour, he rose from the ground and mounted the big gray and walked him slowly down to the charred remains of the wagon, staring with distaste at the scalped bodies lying next to one another. The wagon had been thoroughly looted. Staring at the charred remains of the big Conestoga, he could not help but wonder why they had tried the trip alone, even if they were going to meet someone somewhere west of here it would be damned foolish for a bunch of green horns to go it alone through the Sioux nation. Walking slowly around he read the ground as if words themselves had been written and left for him to read. The attack was sudden and with out warning, no chance for defense. It had been quick and easy for the small war party that no doubt had just happened upon the lone wagon and took for themselves easy spoil. There were at least eight in the party, all unshod ponies, no recently stolen horses in this party. He walked in an ever-widening circle, always wary of the horizon, looking for clues to the rest of the story. It was rather simple really; the only thing he could not figure out was why they had not gone with a wagon train, why alone? It was then that he found the boy lying in the tall grass. It was never easy looking upon death, especially when it is a child. There were those who talked of the glories of war, Morgan Sackett believed most of those would change their mind the first time they saw someone die, actually see the light leave their eyes. There was no glory in death, really. In the world Sackett lived in, one did what one had to, to survive. Keeping an eye on the horizon he took his coat off and buried the man and the woman. The sun was setting when he had finished with the boy. It had been especially hard to be burying the boy. He must have been only seven, maybe eight. He had been a good looking boy too, no doubt would have grown into a fine man. In the red glow of the setting sun Morgan Sackett walked to the wagon looking for something to use as a marker for the graves of the family, he noticed that the bottom boards of the big Conestoga had been spared from most of the damage caused by the flames. Morgan Sackett was a big man; the two hundred forty pounds packed on to the six foot five frame were put there by many hours behind an axe, double jack, or any thing else with a handle or a rope. So when he grabbed hold of the boards they gave with a groan, but they gave. The wood probably would not last long but Sackett did not want to leave the graves unmarked. It was then, after removing the boards in the fading light, that he noticed the wagon had a false bottom, for sitting under the boards was a lock box and a long slender wallet used for holding important papers and documents. He took the wallet out first. It was black with a bull engraved on the cover; it was of very nice quality leather. Opening the wallet he took out a thick sheave of paper and placed it on the tailgate of the wagon. There were some letters, most of these addressed to Thomas Lockwood of New Orleans, An assortment of property deeds, mostly in Louisiana and Texas, and finally a bill of sale for five thousand head of cattle to be delivered in Dodge City By September. The date on the bill of sale was April 29, two weeks ago. Sackett leaned over grabbed the handles on the metal box and heaved, the expected weight was not realized and he took a step back and caught his balance. He set the box on the ground. Not wanting to risk a shot, he found the mans hammer and with a swift blow broke the small hasp of the front of the gray box. Inside were four sacks of gold, a stack of cash and one envelope, thin and unmarked. A thin blue line marked the horizon, Sackett would have to find a place to camp for the night. He pounded the boards in to the ground at the head of each grave and scrawled a date at the top of each board with a piece of charcoal. He would return and put the names on, hoping maybe the letters would provide a clue as to their identity. He put the wallet and money along with the one envelope in his saddlebags and tightened the cinch on the gray. With a final look he mounted and touched spurs to the big horse and started off at a brisk pace. First, a camp for the night, a quick meal and some sleep. In the morning he would read some of the letters and maybe figure out how to proceed. The thought of keeping the money had not entered his mind, finding the rightful owners of it was the only course of action to take. Five thousand head of cattle! He thought about this as he rode along. The ranch he always wanted was right behind him riding in his saddlebags! He shook his head and smiled faintly. It was not his dreams riding back there, it was another man's. Who was the man who died today? Was this his money, or was he simply carrying it for someone? There were a lot of questions and very few answers.
In the darkness he could see the dark outline of the Cottonwood trees ahead. He circled around and dismounted and led the horse up to the line of trees and stood listening, No fires, no sound except the whispering of the leaves in the wind and the rustling of the water beyond. In the darkness he found what he was looking for, an inconspicuous place under a shelf of rock that hid the light of his fire in all but one direction. The trees hid the approach from the creek, so the place was easily defensible. Morgan Sackett took the gray down to the edge of the water and let him drink his fill then picketed him on some grass where he could keep an eye on him. Soon he had a fire going and the smell of coffee rose from the flames. He enjoyed a meal of hard tack and jerky while waiting for the coffee to boil. After a few minutes the horse was brought in close and the fire was extinguished. Sitting in the dark with his coffee in his hands and his back against the smooth surface of the overhang he pondered the situation. There were questions. If the cattle were to be delivered in Dodge, why was he heading west? Was he meeting someone in Ogallala? That was the nearest hint of civilization west of here. South, maybe Hays City or Abilene. Who was bringing the cattle north? The bill of sale would no doubt answer that question. Was he, the man Sackett buried, the Thomas Lockwood the letters were addressed to? What was the destination of the cattle after Dodge? There were letters and documents to be gone through if he was going to find out whom the money belonged to. Sackett guessed that all the money did not belong to the man he buried, but probably to several investors, 5,000 head of cattle did not come cheap. The man he'd buried did not look like a cowpuncher or a rancher, but there had been no farm implements either. The Indians had looted, scattered or burned most of the things they had been carrying, it was a miracle the papers in the wallet had survived. Sackett thought about the situation a few minutes more and decided it would be best to get some rest and get a fresh point of view in the morning after looking through the documents he had found. With that he moved off a ways from where the fire had been and laid his bed roll under a cottonwood tree. Removing his boots he laid a while staring up at the stars through the branches and thought about his own situation. When he had found the wagon he had been on the way to nowhere in particular. He had given some thought to drifting down to Texas and hooking up with an outfit down there. But he wanted to go some place he had never been, maybe California, or Oregon. He knew he wanted to settle someday, start a ranch, maybe in New Mexico or Arizona, he'd heard he had relatives down that way, cousins from Tennessee. Maybe, if he went to California, He thought, He could stop by and meet them, Sackett blood was thick, even with the ones you didn't know. The wind rustled the leaves and the big gray pulled at some grass, the water poured over the ancient rocks that for these last thousand years had filtered the runoff from a thousand storms and a thousand spring thaws.
When next Morgan Sackett opened his eyes a faint gray was showing in the east. A chill was in the air, for spring had arrived but summer was still two months away. Sackett rolled out of his blanket and stirred the fire to life, adding wood he set the coffee pot over the flames and carved a few slices of bacon in to a pan. The gray dawn turned slowly into a thousand different colors that bathed the prairie sea in red's and gold's. After two cups of coffee and five pieces of bacon Morgan Sackett leaned against the trunk of a cottonwood tree and opened the saddle bags and removed the wallet and the contents he had removed from the lock box. When he really looked at how much was there, it put him on edge. He counted the bills out to $10,000! And the gold in four leather sacks drawn closed at the top, amounted to another $15,000! He drew the one thin envelope out of the saddle bag. There was no indication as to what the contents were. It was not sealed, but had a string at one end that held it shut and the contents inside. Pulling loose the knot he drew out a bank draft in the amount of $65,000! The draft was drawn on a bank in New Orleans in the name of Harmon Walls. Morgan Sackett had never in his life seen this kind of money, and it made him uneasy. He knew his life wasn't worth a tinkers damn if anyone got word he had this. He must find out who it belongs to. There was no doubt, he thought, there were other investors. He would have to ride south to Dodge and find out who. The wallet was next. It would, he hoped, provide some clue as to the identity of those he had found in the aftermath of the attack, and provide some kind of trail to the others who had trusted this man with an enormous amount of money. Suddenly a thought had occurred to Sackett! Had the man been running? Had the temptation of $90,000 been to much? That would explain his heading west. Sackett set the thought aside, he could not accuse a dead man of stealing with out more to go on. It was a lot of money and the men involved would not have trusted it to just anyone, so he must have been worthy of that confidence. Still it could not be forgotten. He replaced the money in the saddle bags and turned his attention to the black leather wallet sitting beside him. Suddenly the sound of horses splashing in the creek interrupted his thoughts! They were down stream and around a bend in the wash and coming fast! Sackett stuffed the wallet back in the saddle bags and placed them under the saddle just as four riders came into view! They spread out as they rode up to the camp. Sackett turned and faced them as they drew up. These boys aren't here for the coffee, he thought.
The breeze caught a wisp of smoke from the dying camp fire and carried it up in to the cottonwood trees.
The creek chuckled and complained at the rocks in its way, and somewhere a squirrel chattered and barked. Morgan Sackett stood on the opposite side of the fire with legs spread and his arms hanging loosely at his sides. The four horsemen formed a half circle and drew up.
"Howdy boys!" Sackett said "Something I can do for you?"
A big man with red hair and an axe shaped nose spoke first.
"Which way you headed?"
"I'm headed to Dodge." He answered.
"What business you got in Dodge city?" He said with a thin smile revealing yellow teeth.
"My business is my own. You know better than to ask a question like that. And you should know better than to come into a mans camp uninvited. Man could get himself shot that way." Sackett said looking straight at the big man.
"Were looking for a wagon. A lone wagon. A man and his woman, one kid you seen 'em?" He said.
"Yea I seen 'em." Sackett answered.
The big man leaned forward in his saddle and rested his forearms on the saddle horn.
"You mind tellin' us where" He said impatiently.
"well north is a big place, you think you could be more specific?" He said.
"Three miles. You'll find three graves. I found them not to long after the Sioux." Sackett said.
"They were dead?" One of the others said, a thin man with hunched shoulders and yellow eyes.
"Burying folks is usually what you do when they pass on." Sackett said sarcastically.
The man started to make a reply, but the big man shot him a glance that told him to keep quiet.
"My names Roman Proffit" The big man said turning his gaze back too Sackett.
"Nice to meet you Red!" Sackett said. "Names Sackett." He added.
Proffit looked around the camp noticing the one bed roll and the saddle. The saddle bags are around somewhere he thought. In the bed roll or under the saddle. Better make sure he doesn't have the money before we leave. Proffit knew he couldn't just ask because if Sackett didn't know about the gold and the cash then asking would just arouse suspicion.
"Jack!" He said, motioning to the thin rider. "go check that bed roll and find his saddle bags!"
The rider named Jack started his horse forward.
"Red you call that man back or I'll empty two saddles, Starting with you!" Sackett said.
Jack drew up and looked at Roman Proffit then back to Sackett.
"I'll be damned if some two bit drifter is gonna........" Jack started
Jack drew his hand back to his ear and looked at the blood running down his palm and then at the gun in Sackett's hand which had not been there a second before.
"You damn near killed me!" Jack screamed.
"If I wanted to kill you, you'd be dead." Sackett said
"Now you boys clear out! If I have to shoot again you'll be heading back where ever you came from with one of you draped across the saddle." He warned.
"Sackett you shuck that hog leg mighty fast. Too fast for me. When we meet again, and we will. I'm gonna take you down a notch, I'll beat that confident demeanor of yours in to the ground." Proffit said.
"Any time you want to go a few rounds with me, you let me know Red. I've never ducked a fight yet." Sackett replied.
Morgan Sackett kept his gun level and pointed in the direction of the four men as they walked their horses thru the creek and up the bluff on the other side and headed north in the direction he'd indicated earlier.
He knew it wouldn't take long for them to find the wagon and discover that the money had been found and come to the proper conclusion that he had taken it. These men were not honest. They were not friends of the dead man who had set out to look for him worried about his safety. They were after the money. Sackett hurriedly saddled the big Gray who was anxious to go and rolled his bed roll and retrieved the saddle bags and placed them behind his saddle. After a quick look around to make sure the fire was out and no one was returning, he stepped off at a fast trot heading south to Dodge City. How long would it take them to find the wagon and discover the empty lock box? An hour? He figured he had an hour and half at most before they would arrive at his camp and find him gone, then of course they would follow. That would give him about an eight maybe nine mile head start. He would need all the distance he could get. He spurred the big Gray on and stayed to low ground. Whenever opportunity arose he would wipe out his tracks and take a look at his back trail. Morgan Sackett took stock of his situation. He was carrying $90,000. He was three long days out of Dodge City and riding with four outlaws on his trail in the middle of the Sioux nation. Not a bad days work, he thought to himself and smiled.
The sun was setting blood red in the west as Sackett crawled to the top of the rise and looked down his back trail. In the last light he saw no evidence of pursuit and walked in a crouch to the narrow overhang where he had made his camp. They were out there, waiting just like he was, in the dark, no fire, no sound. For they knew as well as Sackett that the Sioux were searching not for money, but for prey, for trophies they could take back to the lodges this winter. To tell stories and sing songs about their conquests. As the snow fell and the fires burned brightly, casting their eerie shadows in to the night, the young ones would gather and listen to the tales of the warriors as they told of the shrill sound of the war cries that struck fear in to the hearts of their enemies as they rode into battle. Sackett huddled in his blanket and stared in to the darkness. The big gray was pulling at some grass and swishing his tale. At first light, he thought, he would be gone, maybe before. Once he made it to Dodge he would find someone to turn the money over to and be done with it. Then ride for Texas, hole up for the winter and come spring head out to California. He'd read a book once that said the Pacific was as blue as the sky. He hoped so. He'd seen the Gulf of Mexico once, but other than that had never seen an ocean. His thoughts turned to Roman Proffit. Until know he had never heard of him, but Sackett knew his type; a big man with an even bigger ego who rode rough shod over anything that stood in his way. The lesser men would follow. His type preferred these kinds of men, those who would follow and take orders, they were easy to control, they made him look tougher and smarter. Not that Sackett thought Proffit wasn't a tough man. You had to be to keep those who rode the trails of the lawless side of society in check. Brave or cowardly men, it didn't matter, would only follow one who has the personality strong enough to bind the men together cohesively, make them want to work together. The criminal by nature is selfishly independent, egotistical, and lazy . He is selfish in that he preys on others for his own gain. Independent in that he thinks he is a law unto himself and the morals and principles of a civilized society do not apply to him. Egotistical in thinking that his crime will not be discovered and in the off chance that it does and he is asked to pay for his misdeed it is never his fault. It was just a run of bad luck. Lazy in that the thought of an honest existence, actually contributing to something constructive and beneficial would be revolting. Roman Proffit would follow until he had the money or the money was impossible to get at. If he could not get the money, he may even continue to follow him. Sackett had made him look small in front of his men, he lost ground with a crowd that only respected strength. Morgan Sackett would back down for no man. It was not a matter of pride. It was a matter of survival. If you backed down for any reason it was taken as cowardice. Trust was something one needed in the west to survive. No one trusted a coward. And what did one accomplish running away from his problems? No, Morgan Sackett backed down for no man. A breeze moved through the grass and whispered into the night. Sackett pulled his hat low and closed his eyes. Tomorrow would be a long day.
At three a.m. Sackett opened his eyes to a sky filled with bright stars that lit up the prairie night. All was quiet. The gray stood three legged with his head hanging not ten feet away. Sackett rose and pulled his boots on, rolled his blanket and walked to the horse with the saddle. After a quick rub down with a hand full of grass he placed the saddle blanket on the horses back. The big gray side stepped and blew impatiently as he placed the saddle on his back. Sackett bent over to tighten the cinch and the gray nipped at his arm, letting him know he did not appreciate this rude awakening at this ungodly hour. After placing the blanket and saddle bags behind the saddle, he lamented the fact he could not have a fire and thus no coffee, he silently stepped into the saddle and walked the gray slowly out of camp thru a wash and around a bluff. Stopping for a moment to listen, he touched his spurs to the gray and led off at a quick trot. After about a mile the horizon cracked in the east and a gray light began to filter on to the prairie. Sackett kept the rising sun on his left as it spilled a blaze of colors across the ocean of grass. From time to time He would stop in an arroyo and crawl to the top of a low hill to watch his back trail. Nothing. He let his green eyes scan the horizon, searching for the men he knew would be following, and for those who would be hunting as if for prey. It seemed, as he looked north as if he could see all the way to Dakota. No tell tale block dots. Had they lost his trail? Morgan Sackett knew better. He had the advantage of knowing where he was going, at least for now, sooner or later they would figure out his destination. But meanwhile they had to hunt for sign, which took time. Sackett had grown up trailing with the Cherokee's, he knew how to read sign and he knew how to hide it, so they would spend a lot of time searching, time he desperately needed to put distance between the outlaws and himself.
Lunch was a piece of hard tack and some jerky eaten in the saddle as he walked his horse thru a stand of cottonwoods. The creek was dry, the bare white rocks bright in the afternoon sun. Water was not an issue yet, but soon would be. His canteen was still full. He stopped briefly and poured some water in his hat for the gray, who drank eagerly. Still no sign of pursuit, he pressed on. The sun beat down relentlessly. It was only may but summer had come early this year to the plains. As the afternoon wore on and the sun made its way to the western horizon, Sackett began to think about camp and water. The long day had passed with no sign of his pursuers, and he knew the big gray was as tired as he was. He figured he had passed in to Kansas sometime yesterday evening or early this morning. The land had flattened out some and the grass was up to the stirrups. Still keeping to low ground when ever possible, he came upon another dry creek bed which he followed for a quarter mile. It led him to a thick grove of cottonwood trees about an acre in size. It was bordered on three sides by creeks, two of which were dry. He could hear the third quietly rustling along its course on the eastern border of the grove. Morgan Sackett stepped down from the saddle and led the horse in to the shadows. In the gathering dusk he watched the shadows and listened to the sounds, being careful to identify each one making sure it belonged. After a few minutes, satisfied he was alone, he led the gray to the water and let him drink his fill. Sackett took a good long drink and then filled his canteen. It was a tip he got growing up with the his father, Take care of your horse first, and fill your canteen, you never know if you will get a chance later. Sackett knew this would be a popular watering hole for anyone and everyone who was passing thru. Not that he had anything against his fellow man, but riding with $90,000 behind your saddle was quite a temptation for any man. So the fewer people he came in contact with the better. Leading the gray down one of the dry washes, he found what he was looking for. An easily defensible position hidden deep in a thick over growth of brush that came almost to his shoulder, on the south side of the wash. After letting the gray have a roll in the grass he picketed him close and dug in the saddle bag for the last piece of jerky. The sun had set and left an outline of orange blush on the western horizon. Tonight, Sackett decided, he would sleep with his boots on and his horse saddled. He knew he had been lucky so far. That luck, he was sure, was about to run out. He curled up with his hat low over his eyes and his big .44 Russian in his hand. All hell was about to break loose, and he be damned if he wasn't going to be ready.
The sun had long since set, and the shadows had invaded the land. The stars appeared. On their purple canvas they seemed without number as they blinked and darted unnoticed by the sleeping man. The stars were not his concern. They did not wish to take his life, or do him harm of any kind. They only watched from above at the madness of men. It was the creeping shadows that concerned the man. They that come silently in the night with their blades gleaming, blades that thirsted for the blood of a warrior. It was these shadows in the night, who's ghostly steps could not be heard that disturbed the sleep of men.
At three a.m. Morgan Sackett's eyes opened to a sky clear and cool. He blinked a few times to get the sleep out. Looking over at the big gray he could see the outline of the horse against the thick brush. His head was up and his ears were pricked, staring in to the cottonwoods the horse did not move. Sackett silently rolled out of his blanket and picking up his Winchester faded in to the shadows of the bluff. In the darkness all was quiet. The sounds native to the night had ceased. Something or someone was out there. Keeping an eye on the gray he let his eyes drift to the deeper brush next to the wash and watched. Nothing. Suddenly the Gray sidestepped a little and an arm reached out from the brush, trying to pull the picket pin! Indians! Sackett held his fire and watched. Were they trying to draw his fire and locate him? The picket pin was driven deep, and the Indian was trying to be quiet, so he was not going to yank it and take the chance of getting shot. Suddenly out of the wash three more shadows appeared and blended in with the trunks of the cottonwoods that lined the dry shore. Four braves. A small party. But no doubt there were more near by. Sackett brought his rifle to his shoulder and aimed just to the right of the arm and put a shot in to the brush. There was a grunt and the Indian fell forward on his face in to the dirt under the hooves of the now excited gray. One of the braves returned fire but Sackett had shifted his position as he fired. He fired once more in to the brush but heard nothing. The cottonwoods fell silent. They were waiting. Morgan Sackett had played this game before. Once, down in Texas, he had come across three Kiowa bucks looking for scalps. For three days they took pot shots at him as he hid behind his dead horse at the bottom of a buffalo wallow. When they finally came, Sackett killed one with a shot to the chest with an old walker Colt given to him by his father. Another one took some lead in the shoulder. When the third appeared with a blade on the edge of the wallow he was looking in to the business end of the Colt and just knew if he breathed hard, his next stop would be the happy hunting grounds. Sackett let him and the wounded brave ride out double. They headed south and Sackett, on an Indian pony, went north. That was along time ago.
For an hour Morgan Sackett waited in the shadowed silence. In the east a gray line appeared on the horizon. The gray chewed easily at the grass and looked from time to time at the Indian lying next to the picket pin. The big horse rolled its eyes and shook its head at the smell of the blood and returned to pulling at the grass. Sackett longed to move and stretch but knew better , if he did it would probably be the last move he ever made, the first to move would be the first to die. It would not be long now and the day would be bring a new aspect to this game of hide and seek. Besides the few cottonwoods on this side of the creek and the underbrush there was not many places to hide once the dawn had chased the shadows back in to there hiding places. The gray in the east had faded in to a pale yellow and the dry wash began to come to life. Suddenly the gray snorted and stepped back from the thick brush as an arm reached to grab at the ankle of the dead Sioux, Sackett once more raised his rifle to fire, when bark from the tree he was leaning against exploded, showering him with fragments of wood, stinging his eyes! Sackett dove in to the brush and rolled over, rubbing his eyes trying to restore his sight. He looked up just in time to see an Indian run up to the gray and jerk the picket pin out of the ground! He jerked the rifle to his shoulder and fired. The Indian dropped the rope and fell forward in to the brush with a crash. The gray ran off a few yards and stopped with reigns trailing. Sackett began to make his way thru the thick growth. He had to make sure they didn't take the horse. With out it he was a dead man. Like a ghost he moved thru the brush, moving ever closer to the grazing horse. When he was ten yards away he stopped and listened. Suddenly from behind him he heard a soft footstep, Turning just in time to see an Indian leap at him with a knife! Sackett began to rise when the brave hit him in the chest and sent them both sprawling out of the brush and rolling down a small embankment to the edge of the dry creek. Sackett kicked the Indian off him and got to his feet. He had lost his grip on his rifle and his pistol was lying in the brush twenty feet away. The Indian came in crouched low with the blade in his right hand. Sackett took a step back and the soft embankment gave way under his foot and sent him backwards in to the creek bed. The Sioux was instantly upon him slashing and stabbing.. Sackett rolled over and grabbed a handful of sand throwing it in to the eyes of the charging Sioux. The Indian grabbed at his stinging eyes with his left hand as he slashed wildly with the right. Sackett took a step forward and grabbed the Indians wrist and brought it down hard on his knee. Sackett could hear the crack of the bone and the Indian dropped the knife. Sackett brought his right hand in a swift uppercut to the belly and followed that with a wicked stabbing left, that left the Sioux in a heap on the ground.
There was no sign of the fourth brave, but the two bodies of the Indians he had shot earlier were gone. Gathering his rifle and pistol he checked the saddle and saddle bags and stepped into the leather and headed south out of the wash in to the open grass country of northern Kansas. That had been close. Where were Roman Proffit and his bunch? If they had no troubles along the way they surly made up some distance. If he made it to Dodge city it would be a miracle. There were no herds this far north this early in the year. And even if there were, they most likely would be headed for Ogallala or Montana. It was probably better that he stayed away from people until he made it to Dodge. There he could find out who this Money belonged to and why those folks he buried were making their way alone across hostile country. Another day and a half and he would be in Dodge. But when your scalp tingles with every shift in the breeze and every time you top out on a rise expecting a bullet between your shoulder blades a day and a half may as well be a year.